Master of Liberal Studies Final Projects

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    Design Thinking: Using Creativity and Collaboration to Transform Public Relations
    (2018-12) Hayes, Nora
    Public relations practitioners, like designers, toggle back and forth between seemingly different modes of operation: logic and creativity, specific and universal, human and non-human, time-bound and timeless. Both professions are driven by curiosity and the need to shape and change our worlds. Yet the processes at the heart of public relations have focused too narrowly on business imperatives and lost sight of the broader human dimension that fuels stories and provides meaning. Design thinking can provide a tool to help public relations reframe its role as a strategic creative driver.
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    Murakami's Superflat: Constructing a Female Space in a Two-Dimensional Plane
    (2018) Bawiec, Michelle
    Takashi Murakami is one of the most recognized Japanese contemporary artists globally and his "Superflat" art movement brings with it imagery of women that is gross subjectification and yet creates a disruptive space for female artists finding a voice in Japanese Contemporary Art. Looking at a specific art movement such as Superflat can demonstrate how an artistic vehicle can allow for navigation and mediation of the complexities of a changing culture for girls and women. This investigation looks at how female artists have co-opted the stylistic approaches of Superflat to articulate a different form of visuality, although still subsumed in art history as "Superflat," seeking to discover the unique ways that contemporary Japanese women artists have situated an empowered status as creator and spectator in post-modern Japan.
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    Multicultural Understanding: Leveraging the Advantages of Diversity in Scrum Adoption
    (2018) Jukich, Barbara L.
    This paper introduces a positive view of multicultural differences in a U.S. IT software development team with a discussion around the intersection of Scrum values with the cross-cultural dimensions of power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and individualism/collectivism. The comparative analysis between cultural dimensions, Scrum values, and their relation to group development theory uncovered key advantages of cultural diversity; group effectiveness and performance, and creativity and innovation. These advantages present opportunities to enhance the forming and functioning phases of group development as teams adopt Scrum values.
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    Artwork-Mediated Deliberations: How Art Can Awaken Narratives, Emotions and Agency
    (2018) Marks, Ruth Ann
    Deliberation forums using an artwork-mediated journaling facilitation technique were conducted at United Methodist churches on a topic that placed the earth’s natural resources into tension with economic development. In two of the forums, narrative elements played a role in how participants framed their introductory remarks and expressed their values and emotions on the topic. This new deliberation configuration creates a way for participants to readily enter into discussion and engages them to explore a complex topic including how they viewed their own agency.
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    Implications for Healing, Transformation and Prosperity: Historical and Cultural Trauma and People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
    (2018) Zuber, Andrea Lou
    Over the centuries, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have faced horrific treatment at the hands of greater society, and sometimes by the very people who care for them. In the United States, they have been subject to abuse, neglect, eugenics crusades, forced sterilization, involuntary separation from their families and communities in the form of institutionalization, and continued discrimination and oppression. This paper examines the impact those suffrages have had on people with IDD and their communities across the social determinants of health, concluding that today, this population is suffering from the effects of Historical and Cultural Trauma. With that understanding, a trauma-informed lens to healing can be applied to foster prosperity and transformation for people with IDD and the communities who support them.
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    Symbol and Community as Activism: Techniques from the Tradition of the Indonesian Shadow Play and Their Potential Application with At-Risk Youth on St. Paul’s East Side
    (2017-12) Markell, Melinda S.
    Minnesota has been struggling to find a solution which places both students of color and white students at the same level of success in their schooling. Empowering students to communicate their concerns and therefore invest in the quality of their own schooling is key. This can be accomplished through a proposed curriculum which combines Wayang or Indonesian shadow plays, the power of symbol, and citizen professionalism. Students learn how Indonesians have used symbol in their plays to communicate social concerns and through citizen professionalism create a play of their own. The process gives students the opportunity to build community amongst themselves with the ultimate goal of addressing social concerns in a way that leads to solutions-based discussion.
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    The More Influential, the More Controversial: How Eleanor Roosevelt and Eva Perón Broke Gender Norms and Redefined the Role of First Lady
    (2018-05) Kahlenbeck, Josie
    This thesis is a cross-cultural examination of how Eleanor Roosevelt and Eva Perón broke gender norms and redefined the role of first lady in the United States and Argentina. I examine the expectations for women in the early and mid-20th century and analyze how Roosevelt and Perón's actions were within and beyond these expectations. I find that Roosevelt's language was less forceful and groundbreaking than that of Perón, who was able to mix her strong visual presence with forceful language to create a Peronist image, and broke gender norms more than Roosevelt.
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    A Critical Analysis of Menstrual Health Websites in Relation to the Needs of Pre- and Early Post-Menarcheal Girls
    (2017-12) Sutherland Lembcke, Amy
    Fifty-two percent of teens aged 13-17 go online to find sexual and reproductive health-related information, with internet usage among teen girls growing five times faster than any other demographic. This paper examines how credible and relatable menstrual health websites are to the needs of pre- and newly post-menarcheal girls. While it is shown that 54 percent of the online menstrual health content in my sample is well-rounded and balanced, only 15 percent of it is relatable to a teen audience. Furthermore, over 95 percent of the websites in my search used negative language when discussing menstrual health
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    What matters more—the ‘literariness’ of a story, or what a reader thinks it is? Exploring the Influence of Genre Expectations on Transportation and Empathy
    (2017-05) Van Gilder, Jessica
    As a tool for understanding, narrative is fundamental to human cognition. A wealth of theory and growing empirical evidence strongly indicate that reading a narrative activates a simulation with critical cognitive and emotional components. Importantly, these components have been linked to prosocial outcomes, such as empathy and transportation. While there is growing experimental support that reading narratives entails a simulated experience that involves transportation, the conditions under which reading leads to improvements in empathy remains understudied. This thesis applies a cognitive and narrative based approach in order to ask: What matters more? “Literary” features of a text, or the genre expectation a reader brings into a text? To answer this question, this thesis examines whether genre expectations and text genre—in combination or independently—influence participants’ empathy, transportation and comprehension. Overall, the results of two experiments bring to light the role of genre expectation in processing fiction and nonfiction texts and suggest genre expectation is an important factor that future studies should take into account when investigating the reading experience. By considering the study results in the framework of narratology, this thesis also addresses the theoretical foundations of the division between fiction and nonfiction. Specifically, this project reflects on the implications of how and why the reader’s use of disbelief has changed since the novel’s arrival due to the increasingly blurred boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, and their respective claims to truth.
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    Art as Activism: Displacement Prevention in the Twin Cities
    (2016-12) O’Donnell, Stephanie
    This research uses the history of urban development and media representation as context for understanding current racial equity gaps and growing fears of gentrification and displacement in Minneapolis and Saint Paul neighborhoods. It emphasizes the importance of narrative in the process of changing power structures, and explores the community-building work of artist, Wing Young Huie, and arts organizations, Mixed Blood Theatre and Juxtaposition Arts. During times of change, art can strengthen neighborhood resilience by giving communities control over the telling of their own stories.
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    Redesigning Individual Wellness Potential and Behavior in American Culture
    (2016-12) Davis, Sarah
    In America, the concept of wellness can be observed and interpreted in various ways, producing a “disconnect” between intentions and commitment to action. This thesis uses a Whole Systems Thinking Approach to explore the reasons behind the disconnect by deconstructing individual wellness potential as a system. Design thinking will then be used to reconstruct parts of that system in order to reduce or avoid the disconnect. Systems thinking helps us understand the connections between parts in a system and how they work together. Design thinking creates an opportunity to embrace self-awareness and aids in selecting elements for the feedback loops needed to strengthen our potential for wellness.
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    Depictions of Empowerment? How Indian Woman are Represented in Vogue India and India Today Woman
    (2016-08) Singh, Monica
    Vogue India and India Today Woman have both taken strong positions on empowering women. However with only three percent of Indians having access to a computer with Internet and only 47 percent having access to a television, how are these magazines empowering women and spreading the word? This study analyzes depictions of empowerment through Vogue India and India Today Woman by breaking apart the covers into categories and defining whether these covers fall into spectrum 1, style and material, or spectrum 2, goals and achievements. Results indicate that Vogue India has the tendency to fall into one side of the spectrum and put emphasis in material goods and style; whereas, India Today Woman falls on the opposite spectrum and puts more emphasis on goals and achievements while touching upon all aspects of a woman's life. India Today Woman found a medium, which needs to be a format followed by other companies in developing nations like India.
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    Ma and the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden: A Reflection of Space, Time and Place
    (2016-08) Mastel, Kristen
    “Ma” is a Japanese philosophy that combines space, time, and place that provides a mechanism to understand Japanese garden aesthetics. The medium of papercutting is used to explore the concept of “ma” using the subject of the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden at Como Park in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In addition, to exploring the concept of “ma,” this thesis aims to document the history of the Japanese garden and the garden’s designer, Masami Matsuda, as a symbol of friendship between Saint Paul and Nagasaki sister cities, and cultural understanding.
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    Exhibiting Jane: Making Classic Literature Accessible to a Museum Audience
    (2016-08) King, Gina H
    This paper investigates Jane Austen’s connection with her brother, Edward Austen Knight, and his contribution to Jane’s work, particularly her novel, Emma. This study explores how Edward’s wealth and status influenced Jane’s life and led her to the most productive period of her literary life. The information uncovered is used to create a new type of museum period room installation that encourages exploration of classic literature
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    Ownership, Aggregation, and Visualization: Exploring the Relationship Between People and Their Data
    (2016-08) Fillman, Scott A
    Personal data are a commodity in the United States, yet there is little research regarding how people view, connect with, and relate to their personal data. This critical inquiry uses Google search term data and a secondary source search to generate a glimpse into the current state of personal data ownership, aggregation, and visualization. The research shows that there is a relatively low level of interest in the topic of personal data taken holistically, with personal analytics as a practice to manage and gain insight from a variety of personal data types being virtually nonexistent when compared with other types of search queries. Also demonstrated is the immense value that data story experiences can bring to personal analytics applications.
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    The View from the Road: Tourist Routes and the Transformation of Scenic Vision in Western Norway
    (2012-05) Tvedten, Kristian
    This paper explores how Norway’s National Tourist Routes are emblematic of the ways in which scenic landscapes are appropriated and patterned on a historical model of visual distinction. By privileging scenic vision above other interactions, these travel routes profoundly shape our aesthetic responses to the landscape. The paper explores the many dimensions of the Norwegian landscape through readings of travel literature and visual art and the ways in which these cultural forms come have evolved and transformed scenic tourism in Western Norway.
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    Media as Weaponry: How Civil War Media Shaped Opinion and Morale
    (2016-05) Spears, Matthew
    This thesis focuses on the role of media during the Civil War and how it shaped the nation’s opinion and morale. It includes how media was used, by whom, and for what purposes. Specifically, I examine the various technologies that were around at the time of the Civil War—written (newspapers), visual (illustrations and photographs), and electric (telegraph). I argue that thanks to the clever, and sometimes manipulative use of media, both North and South leveraged the media to spin information. However, the North was more likely to be effective, and ultimately win the war, thanks in part to their more adept ability to spin information, their greater number of resources, and the government’s willingness to control and censor communications.
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    At Least She Died Free: The Possible Fates of Aging American Women Prisoners
    (2016-05) Olson, Sara
    This project examines the reasons for the growing cohort of aging American prisoners overall while focusing on living conditions inside prisons and the potential outcomes for older women in particular. Employing a qualitative analysis, informed by quantitative research and a wide range of carceral literature, the inquiry seeks to discover different possibilities for the futures of these women. The United States incarcerates more women than any other country and, by 2030, one-third of all prisoners will be age 55 or older. Human rights issues relating to prison conditions, punitive sentencing policies, and prisoner desistance perspectives in the United States are explored.
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    Page, Stage, Engage: Spoken Word as a Tool for Creating More Critical , Engaging, Social Justice Education Programs
    (2016-05) Tran Myhre, Kyle
    Spoken word and slam poetry - as both practice and culture - share with critical pedagogy an emphasis on asking questions, cultivating dialogue and counter-narratives, critical thinking, valuing personal experience and narratives, making the invisible visible (especially with regards to power), relationship-building through honest and authentic engagement, and collectively creating the community in which we want to live. I am interested in how all of these concepts function within social justice education spaces: first-year orientation and "welcome week" programs, corporate diversity trainings, bystander intervention presentations, online "thinkpieces" and video blogs, and beyond. More specifically, this project explores how spoken word can be a creative intervention to help make social justice education programs not just more engaging , but more critical.